Zimbabwe’s telecom tycoon becomes country’s first billionaire

Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chairman of Econet Wireless Global Ltd., speaks during the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills , California, U.S., on Monday, May 2, 2016. Getty Images

Zimbabwe’s telecom tycoon Strive Masiyiwa is the country’s first billionaire according to a report by Forbes.

The 57-year-old is now worth $1.7 billion.

Mr. Masiyiwa controls Econet Group, a Zimbabwe-listed mobile phone company that also has investments in financial services, insurance, e-commerce, renewable energy, education, Coca-Cola bottling, hospitality and payment gateway solutions, the report said.

Econet also has a pay television outfit, Kwesé TV which is competitive across Africa.

In July last year, Liquid Telecom, a subsidiary of Econet Group successfully raised $700 million in a bond and term loan financing package from international financiers.

Econet was founded in 1993 by Masiyiwa and gained a licence from the government in 1998.

Mr Masiyiwa and his wife also founded the Higher Life Foundation, which educates more than 40,000 students in the country.

In 2013, the couple also established the Ambassador Andrew Young Scholarship, a $6.4 million scholarship fund that sends African students to attend Morehouse College in the United States.